Some medical workers in the country are not getting the necessary personal protective gear needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among health workers, Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson claimed.
Ferguson added that members of the health unions, the Bahamas Nurses Union, Bahamas Doctors Union and Consultant Physicians Staff Association, have not been appointed to any of the committees recently formed to tackle COVID-19, something he said must change.
He also claimed that some healthcare workers are being “forced” to work “unfair” schedules.
Ferguson said the unions are urgently requesting a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands to address these concerns.
“Despite their best efforts and their relentless commitment to provide the best possible healthcare for their patients, I am advised that some of our medical professionals are not getting the necessary protective gear and supplies that they need to do their jobs,” Ferguson said in a statement.
“As a result, they put themselves and their families at risk of endangering their lives simply by trying to do their work.”
He added, “[I] understand that there may be attempts to force some of our healthcare professionals to work schedules that are unfair and dangerous to their health and that of their families.
“Any such manipulation of our workers to achieve political ‘brownie points’, must stop immediately.”
There have been eight COVID-19-related deaths in the country. Sands said last week that one in five of confirmed COVID-19 cases have been healthcare workers.
Ferguson added, “It has been brought to my attention that the presidents of the[unions], oftentimes, are not consulted or included in the decision-making process on many of the protocols and policies that have been implemented to-date to combat this killer virus.
“Our affiliates are some of the most talented medical professionals, not only in The Bahamas, but throughout the region.
“They must be at the table when decisions are made to fight for the lives of Bahamians.”
Last month, a National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 was appointed by the prime minister.
It is co-chaired by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillian and its members include government representatives as well as members from civic society and the port.
But Ferguson said that “all hands must be on deck and working to [defeat] this corona virus”.
He also said that “all of our workers on the front line of this fight, particularly our healthcare professionals, must be provided with major health insurance”.
“[W]e are requesting an urgent meeting with the prime minister and the minister of health to deal with the concerns raised,” he added.
‘Healthcare workers must be provided with major health insurance’